Re: e-books pricing (was: Re: a very small quantum entertainment)

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Mon Jul 24 2000 - 10:16:43 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:
> In the last thrilling chapter, you'll recall,
> At 03:15 PM 23/07/00 -0500, Phil wrote :
> >I looked, but am disappointed in Eidolon.
> >I could buy a big fat physical book for $11 plus postage.
> I passed on this customer reaction to Steve at Fictionwise, who made the
> following response, which he's allowed me to repost here:
> =============
> Yes, there are people like that. But there are plenty others who don't
> feel this way. The price we've posted is a bit less than the australian
> newsstand price, so I don't understand the price issue. The purpose of
> ebooks is definitely not to offer books at a "fraction of the cost." This
> is really a fallacy. An ebook should be priced a little lower than the
> print edition, but not at "a fraction" of the cost. (Unless the fraction
> you are talking about is 9/10.) The printing costs for
> a physical paper back book are only about $1 out of a list price here in
> the usa of about $8. So by any reasonable logic the price should be about
> 10 percent less for an ebook with the same content. What people are
> paying for is the *content* not much the package.

Ah Phooey. What we are paying for with real books is the book makers,
distributors and sellers cost to print, store, process, ship, inventory,
process, ship, inventory on retail shelves (at retail real estate costs), and
for the incremental cost of that nice bookstore infrastructure and the people
who work in it (oh yeah, and the three or more tiers of profit as well, which we
shouldn't have to pay for with ebooks either).

What Eidolon and Fictionwise are doing is making you pay for the cost of their
exhorbitant dot com advertising budgets, and the amortized cost of developing
their server system software (if its custom). The majority of the cost of a
successful or semi-successful dot com is advertising: getting your brand
recognised on TV, Print, radio, and web media. Web portals make you pay an
exhorbitant amount of money to have an agressive presence on their sites, where
every keyword you want to control (i.e. when people use that keyword in the
search engine, your ad pops up on the response page) costs between $600-2000 per
month (where they estimate your keyword will get between 15,000-35,000 'hits' in
that month usually, and they never guarrantee any kind of 'click thru'
percentage, because its usually less than 0.1%)

Its not you Damien. You are as much a pawn in this as the rest of us. What this
is is the new economics of the 'free content' marketplace externalizing its
costs onto the 'not free' content, along with the Advertising/PR industry making
us pay for their repeated attempts to program our consumer choices from the old
market to the new. If it were so great, then it should stand on its own merits
and not require so much hype.

> We have over 2,100 readers at Fictionwise right now, and that is growing
> by about 1,000 per month. Most of these people read on Palm Pilot and
> Rocket Ebook platforms and are quite happy to pay what we're asking. And
> we have ample repeat sales to prove that this is not just a fluke. Currently
> nearly 25% of all our sales are repeat customers. We have several customers
> who have come back 4 or more times (and we've only been open about six weeks).
> We have several customers who have bought more than 60 titles and have spent
> close to $100.

So they've been in business for two months? Sounds like a LOT of market
experience this guy has to go on.. ;)

I'd LOVE to hear what he would say in response to my comments, but I would not
want to put you out into irritating him too much...

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